ell, Windows 10 is here, the “Last ever edition of Windows”.I got my Windows Book an Upgrade App pretty quickly, and went ahead and pencilled myself in, and waited for 29 July.
Today I switched the machine on, left it running and assumed it would download whilst I was out at work. Fairly disappointingly, I arrived home to find nothing had popped onto the monitor to say “I’m ready!”
Why might this be? Any number of reasons according to Microsoft, maybe the servers were busy, maybe I wasn’t one of the chosen, or another thought occurred to me, maybe it was waiting for me to install the last of my Windows 8.1 updates. Yes, that must be it.
And that’s when the trouble started.
One reboot later, the Windows 10 app had disappeared from the system tray. Running the troubleshooter informed me that KB2976978 was missing. Examining the system clearly stated that it wasn’t. Any attempt to download and install the update informed me that it was already installed.
OK, so, what are the options?
The most obvious one was a manual install. Off to the Microsoft website to run the media creation tool. Run the tool, start downloading the update. Happy Days.
Windows then Verifies the download, unpacks it, and tries to check everything is good for the install.
At this point I am confronted with a message stating “This PC cannot run Windows 10” and underneath a message stating “We were unable to update the system reserved partition.”
After some basic digging, it appears that the 100MB system reserved partition created during the previous Windows 8 (later upgraded to 8.1) install has 1MB of free space left. Very unlikely to be able to support an OS upgrade. This in turn, it transpires, having trawled several forums being the result of a SATA to SSD migration performed with the Samsung SSD Migration tools.
Oh dear. As many will know, the System Reserved Partition is not something to mess with unless you really have to. Certainly it should not have a drive letter assigned to it. This allows your machine to potentially write data to it, fill it up completely (not just nearly) and cause al sorts of nastiness.
We need a method of expanding the partition without doing it permanent damage and without the risk involved in moving the boot loader to another disk and making that the System and Active partition. Enter a copy of Acronis Disk Director. I released 400MB of Hard Drive space from the partition housing the C: drive, then got Acronis to allow that space to be allocated to the System Reserved Partition. This raised it to a 500MB drive, which is what the default size is these days.
So, off we go again (unfortunately having to re-download the Windows 10 image). In the interim I uninstalled my copy of BitDefender 2015, intending to re-download the Windows 10 compatible edition afterwards, thus ensuring the security software cannot interfere with the upgrade, and I get my protection back afterwards.
This time, the Media creation tool got past the System Reserved Drive, downloaded its updates and began the install which is in three parts (Copy Files / Unpacking, Installing Features, and Configuring Settings). A total of three reboots occurred during the process.
So, my upgrade path was most decidedly not easy, but I have a machine which has been through the wars a bit, the veteran of a previous OS upgrade and an SSD migration.
The good news is, your efforts are eventually rewarded. I liked Windows 8 / 8.1 – I controversially did not mind the Start Page, but Windows 10 takes what was good with that and makes everything a little less “in your face”.
- The New Start Menu. A nice combination of the Windows 8 live tiles and the familiar Windows 7 traditional start menu. Microsoft has also retained the right-click on the Windows icon to bring up the Power User commands.
- Microsoft Edge. Yes it is lacking in plugins, but switching to the traditional IE is easy for when this is necessary. It looks nice but best of all it is blindingly fast.
- The built-in Apps. With the exception of the Twitter app (Tweet Deck still rules hands-down), the built-in apps are of real quality. Even the Weather app is packed with information now.
- Cortana. The Windows phone assistant comes to the desktop. Only minor gripe is that my old Life Cam isn’t 100% compatible with her, but the voice recognition standard, even then, is very, very accurate.
- Little tweaks. There is now a delay on the snipping tool which can be set in seconds. Very useful for when you need to capture something requiring an extra click, like the start menu.
- I would like the All Apps shortcut at the bottom of the Start Menu to open the old “All Apps” screen from Windows 8. Its a minor thing, but I found that easy to graphically navigate.
- The “sign in with your face” thing requires an infrared camera, the lowest priced ones being the equivalent of $100 US. That’s going to be a longer term thing.
There has been much made of the Wi-Fi sharing issue since launch but come on people, if you don’t want to use it, don’t switch the thing on!
My advice is therefore to go for it if you are eligible for the upgrade. Its free, and you will gain much more than you lose. Back up all your files first, and if you have a machine that has been through a few installs, upgrades, hard drive changes and whatnot, either do a clean install, or be prepared for a bit of prep first as per above.
Big thumbs up on this for MS, and it seems I’m not alone, as of Friday, they estimate Windows 10 is already being run on 14 Million Desktops…